Stellar object IRAS 14568-6304 ejects gas across 180 light years



facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblr
This new Hubble image shows IRAS 14568-6304, a young star that is cloaked in a haze of golden gas and dust. It appears to be embedded within an intriguing swoosh of dark sky, which curves through the image and obscures the sky behind. This dark region is known as the Circinus molecular cloud. This cloud has a mass around 250 000 times that of the Sun, and it is filled with gas, dust and young stars. Within this cloud lie two prominent and enormous regions known colloquially to astronomers as Circinus-West and Circinus-East. Each of these clumps has a mass of around 5000 times that of the Sun, making them the most prominent star-forming sites in the Circinus cloud. The clumps are associated with a number of young stellar objects, and IRAS 14568-6304, featured here under a blurry fog of gas within Circinus-West, is one of them. IRAS 14568-6304 is special because it is driving a protostellar jet, which appears here as the "tail" below the star. This jet is the leftover gas and dust that the star took from its parent cloud in order to form. While most of this material forms the star and its accretion disc — the disc of material surrounding the star, which may one day form planets — at some point in the formation process the star began to eject some of the material at supersonic speeds through space. This phenomenon is not only beautiful, but can also provide us with valuable clues about the process of star formation. IRAS 14568-6304 is one of several outflow sources in the Circinus-West clump. Together, these sources make up one of the brightest, most massive, and most energetic outflows ever reported. Scientists have even suggested calling Circinus-West the "nest of molecular outflows" in tribute to this activity. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Serge Meunier.

This young star is breaking out. Like a hatchling pecking through its shell, this particular stellar newborn is forcing its way out into the surrounding Universe.

The golden veil of light cloaks a young stellar object known only as IRAS 14568-6304. It is ejecting gas at supersonic speeds and eventually will have cleared a hole in the cloud, allowing it to be easily visible to the outside Universe.

Stars are born deep in dense clouds of dust and gas. This particular cloud is known as the Circinus molecular cloud complex. It is 2280 light-years away and stretches across 180 light-years of space. If our eyes could register the faint infrared glow of the gas in the cloud, it would stretch across our sky more than 70 times the size of the full Moon. It contains enough gas to make 250 000 stars like the Sun.

IRAS 14568-6304 was discovered with the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, launched in 1983 as a joint project of the US, the UK and the Netherlands to make the first all-sky infrared survey from space.

This particular image was taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It is a combination of just two wavelengths: optical light (blue) and infrared (golden orange). The dark swath running across the image is the Circinus molecular cloud, which is so dense that it obscures the stars beyond.

At longer infrared wavelengths, this darkness is filled with point-like stars, all deeply embedded and which will one day break out like IRAS 14568-6304 is doing.

Indeed, IRAS 14568-6304 is just one member of a nest of young stellar objects in this part of Circinus, each of which is producing jets. Put together, they make up one of the brightest, most massive and most energetic outflows that astronomers have yet observed. In years to come, they will be a beautiful, brightly visible star cloud.

 


Source: European Space Agency

 

Posted in Space on May 31, 2016